Food Fit for Bugs
What’s Missing From Our Gut Health Equation?
In terms of their role in enhancing gut health and subsequent overall long-term wellness, probiotics are currently high on our radar. Significantly less emphasis is placed on the importance of prebiotics in this digestive health and healing domain. Probiotic-rich kombucha and kimchi are now available in every standard supermarket, but we know little of the importance of prebiotics. The reality is that our Western diets don’t contain anywhere near enough of either. This leaves us vulnerable to an array of inflammatory illnesses and diseases. Probiotic-rich foods and supplements are essential for both avoiding and healing a leaky gut, thereby cultivating health, energy, and well-being. However, we are overlooking our need for nourishment and fuel in the form of prebiotics, in order for these good gut bugs to function properly.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are effectively indigestible fibers, also referred to as resistant starch. They are forms of carbohydrate which pass through the stomach and small intestine without being broken down by digestive enzymes or gastric acids. Upon reaching the colon, they’re fermented by our gut microbiota and used as fuel for our healthy bacteria. Foods rich in these prebiotic fibers include garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, legumes, oatmeal and dandelion greens.
Prebiotics As Fuel For Our Intestinal Warriors
Prebiotics become nutrition, or fuel, for the beneficial bacteria that live in our gut. Together with probiotics, which produce the beneficial bacteria we need through a fermentation process, they boost the resiliency of our gastrointestinal systems. We are desperate for this digestive support, in this age of glutenous, pasteurized, processed food. They join forces to preserve our health by maintaining balance and diversity of intestinal bacteria. They improve our population of such bacteria as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These two strains of particularly beneficial bacteria are crucial to our digestive wellness and ability to fight off infection. We also rely on a reasonable supply of these friendly microbes for the synthesis of such vitamins as K2 and B12. Without these beneficial bacteria, our bodies cannot produce these vitamins, which are crucial for bone, heart, blood and nerve health.
The Prebiotic-Probiotic Partnership
This prebiotic-probiotic partnership builds a solid foundation for our health and longevity. Good intestinal health is essential in our battle against the negative consequences of consistent inflammatory food and lifestyle choices. As a result, higher intakes of probiotics are associated with improved cholesterol levels, better stress management, improved immune response, better hormonal balance, lower risk for cardiovascular disease, lower propensity towards weight gain and lower risk of autoimmune disease, amongst many other health improvements. So don’t be afraid to add a little extra onion and garlic to your dishes, adding a side of artichokes and dandelion greens for good measure!